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Creation Club is Bethesda's alternative to paid mods

In among the game announcements at E3 2017 Bethesda also announced Creation Club, “a collection of new game content for Skyrim and Fallout 4.” That content includes new weapons, armour, crafting and housing features, and changes to core systems, and you buy all of it in-game with ‘credits’ purchased for real money through Steam. Is this a new paid mods system? No, says the FAQ, “Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like.”

Here’s the Creation Club trailer:

And here’s the full answer, re: paid mods.

No. Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like. Also, we won’t allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club, it must all be original content. Most of the Creation Club content is created internally, some with external partners who have worked on our games, and some by external Creators. All the content is approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localization, polishing, and testing. This also guarantees that all content works together. We’ve looked at many ways to do “paid mods”, and the problems outweigh the benefits. We’ve encountered many of those issues before. But, there’s a constant demand from our fans to add more official high quality content to our games, and while we are able to create a lot of it, we think many in our community have the talent to work directly with us and create some amazing new things.

In short: yes, this is paid; but no, they aren’t mods in the traditional sense, since Bethesda approve and work with the creators of this new stuff in order to test and localise it. That seems fair to me. Creation Club essentially sounds like a way to create an ecosystem of paid DLC at a scale that Bethesda alone can’t operate. Heck, the above trailer includes Mudcrab armour, which was a PC Gamer backpage joke designed to take the piss out of Oblivion’s infamous horse armour DLC. It also sounds like the old idea of monetising the existing mod community is dead – ie. they’ve tried, but decided “the problems outweigh the benefits.”

The new system does raise more questions, though. If Bethesda and a partner make a new weapon, for example, and release it for money through Creation Club, what’s to stop someone in the modding community recreating that weapon and releasing it as a free item? Aside from morals, obviously. The Creation Club is either going to have to compete on quality and/or they’re going to get into the messy situation of trying to cease-and-desist modders and get things taken down from the Steam Workshop or TESNexus.

Although not anyone can release their work through the Creation Club, anyone will be able to submit a pitch through the system. It goes through an approval process, with Bethesda picking what gets accepted and what doesn’t.

“Paid mods”, if you don’t know, refers to Bethesda and Valve’s disastrous attempts to monetise the Skyrim modding community in 2015. They launched a system whereby creators could get paid for their work, there was a great deal of anger from the existing modding community, and the system was promptly shut down. You can read our take on the pros and cons here, and the views of some of the existing community here.

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